There are various things I fantasize about doing in my twilight years.
Most times it’s about quitting the corporate life and living hand to mouth singing in a band on Thursdays to Sundays, and working as a line cook in a Michelin starred restaurant the rest of the week.
Then there’s the one about taking a few years off to live in Shaolin temple, learning some martial arts and occasionally going off into the wild to live with wolves.
I have a classmate who has lived in Shanghai for many years and she runs a studio there teaching Shaolin Kung Fu for fitness and well being. She also organises tours to the Shaolin Temple every year and have planted the idea in my head that I should visit.
The Shaolin Monastery (Chinese 少林寺; pinyin: Shàolín sì), also known as the Shaolin Temple, is a Chan (“Zen) Buddhist temple in Dengfeng County, Henan Province, China.
Believed to have been founded in the 5th century, the Shaolin Temple is the main temple of the Shaolin school of Buddhism to this day.
More importantly, Shaolin is the mystical home to Chinese Kung Fu and has captured the world’s imagination through the ages.
A life of tranquility, finding your inner soul, meditation and losing weight in the process – sounds like a plan. And picking up some Kung fu in the process – why not ?
But wait – I hear the monks are strict vegetarians? Does that mean I have to eat grass too? That would be a big problem.
And their training looks painful. I might die in the process.
I had second thoughts.
Then I noticed that the Shaolin monks of today wore quite stylish shoes.
Feiyues are a brand of trainers that began life in Shanghai in the 1920s as a humble shoe favoured by monks and martial arts students.
In 2008, at the Beijing Olympics, all 2008 martial arts performers wore Feiyues.
Feiyue started out as the go-to footwear for Shaolin monks. The shoes were favoured as they were lightweight, supportive and cheap.
These shoes are also popular worldwide amongst practitioners of parkour for their light weight, thin sole, and flexibility.
Fast forward to today and the martial art accessory has become a fashionable must-have – and the cause of multiple copyright disagreements
These China made shoes are made using recycled rubber from the Shanghai Da Fu Rubber tire factory.
Their Chinese name means “to leap” or “to fly over”, though its slogan “flying forward” will be more familiar to people in the West.
In 2006, a French marketing and events manager living in Shanghai had the idea to create a hip, stylish culture around the shoe. He bought the Feiyue brand registration from a manufacturer in China and trademarked the name to sell the shoes in France.
The Frenchie subsequently sold the rights to a Florida-based footwear firm called BBC International, which bought out the French brand in late 2014.
And so the trade war started.
Today, there is a big debate as to which is the authentic Feiyue – the original ones made by the Chinese dudes for the Shaolin monks 70 years ago, but has not trademarked the brand, or BBC International who owns the trademark today.
The shoes now have a bit of a cult following since Orlando Bloom started wearing them.
Orlando bloom the metrosexual toy boy?
Nah, give me the fashionable monks any day.
My Feiyue arrived today.
Let me run around a little in it and climb some stairs while carrying buckets of water on each arm.
And if my neighbours call the police, I will know how well the sneakers hold up a fat man running.
That will help me to decide if I am ready to scale the Shaolin steps and go play with some wolves.